The Volkswagen Golf GTI has a turbocharged engine. The Audi A6 has a supercharger. Both have a nice marketing ring to them, but what’s under the hood?
Both are forced induction systems, sucking more air into the engine. When more air combines with fuel, more power is created. A supercharger’s fans are powered by the engine, spinning with the crankshaft, while a turbocharger spins by capturing escaping exhaust fumes. Thus, turbochargers only kick in once the engine begins producing exhaust, creating a delay called turbo lag.
Which is better? Turbos are more efficient, but superchargers pack an instant, brute punch.
– Chris Butsch, @CarTalkChris